The University of Michigan Solar Car Team won the 2012 American Solar Challenge (ASC) with its car Quantum, snagging a fourth consecutive ASC title, and also breaking the record the team set in 2008. Final time for the 1,650-mile (2,655 km) competition was 44:36:21—10 hours and 18 minutes ahead of second-place Iowa State.
This is the seventh North American title for the U-M team, which won the inaugural event in 1990 with its first car, the Sunrunner.
More than 100 students created Quantum. Quantum weighs 320 lbs (145 kg) without a driver and is 16’ long x 5’ wide x 3.5’ tall. Estimated top speed is 105 mph (169 km/h). Quantum’s battery custom-made lithium-ion battery was created from scratch with an assist from SolidWorks Simulation to help test for overheating.
The racers encountered some bad weather conditions on the route, including intense rain on the second and last day of racing. U-M took advantage of the weather on day two, acquiring a two-hour lead as other teams hampered by the rain were forced to drive slower to preserve their energy.
Quantum, U-M’s lightest-ever vehicle, finished third in the World Solar Challenge in Australia last fall. It weighs a full 200 pounds less than its most recent predecessor, and it is 30% more aerodynamic.
The U-M Solar Car Team has finished third in the World Solar Challenge five times, most recently in 2011. With more than 100 students from schools and colleges across the university, U-M Solar Car is one of the largest student organizations on campus.
Major sponsors of the U-M Solar Car team include IMRA America, Michigan Engineering, Ford Motor and General Motors.